Page images

is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot “ look on iniquity,” and who

and who “ will by no " means clear the guilty.” They knows that “their God is a consuming fire," and that " it “ is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the

living God.”. And therefore the habitual remembrance of God which they maintain is accompanied with a consideration of His mercy, and a grateful affiance in the Mediator through whom it flows. « Enter not into judgment with “ thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no “ man living be justified,” is the constant language of the awakened bosom. With this the sensibilities of those who enter into the spirit of our petition concur, while they “beseech Al“ mighty God mercifully to look upon His


The ungodly heart that is conscious of guilt, but at the same time is unsubdued, unhumbled, and unacquainted with Divine mercy, wishes to have nothing to do with God. All unconverted persons “say unto God," in their hearts if not with their lips, “ Depart from us, for we “ desire not the knowledge of thy ways.

What “is the Almighty that we should serve Him? “ And what profit should we have if we pray “ unto Him?” They comfort themselves in their state of alienation from God with the de lusive hope that “ the Lord will not see, nei“ ther will the God of Jacob regard.” If an unwelcome thought of God intrude, that is in any degree of accordance with those attributes which are ascribed to Him in His word, it is necessarily productive of terror and dismay, and dismissed with all possible speed. But the kind regard of Almighty God is essential to the comfort of His own people. Instead of saying,



ἐ Depart from me," they cry, "Hear me, O "Lord, for thy loving kindness is good: turn "unto me according to the multitude of thy "tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and re"deem it: deliver me because of mine enemies." The Omniscience and Omnipresence of God constitute, in connection with His grace, the source of all the satisfactions of His people. "In Him," with respect to natural and spiritual life, "they live and move and have their being."


[ocr errors]

The objects to whom Divine regard is implored in our collect are the people of God. Thereby the congregation when offering up this petition mean themselves, and with themselves associate all their brethren, who together with them "worship God in the spirit, rejoice "in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in "the flesh." For it is Divinely ordained that prayer should be made " for all men," and especially for them who are of the household "of faith."

But are we indeed the people of God? Is our language accurate when we so denominate ourselves? The question is of the last importance; for "God hath respect unto the lowly, but the "proud he knoweth afar off:" and lowliness of heart is one of the grand characteristics of His people, whereby they are distinguished from all other persons. "To this man will I look," saith He whose favourable regard we implore, "to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit "and that trembleth at my word." Reader, are the distinguishing features of the people of God visible in you and me? There are other properties assigned to His people, which cannot

66 even

be mistaken, the mention of which may assist our inquiry into our own personal relation to God. His people believe in Him, fear Him, love Him, hope in Him, obey Him, submit to Him, derive their happiness from Him, and rejoice in that relation in which they stand to Him. Are we then His people or not? For the comfort of the timid believer it may be observed, that all who cordially wish to be His people are certainly such. For that cordial wish implies, in proportion to its vigour, all those characteristic properties which have been enumerated. They are "Israelites indeed, in "whom there is no guile."

Taking it for granted that the reader has legitimately reckoned himself among the people of God, I must desire him to recall to his remembrance some things which are naturally suggested by the title which he hath assumed.

How humiliating is the thought, which our collect suggests? "We are a chosen genera"tion, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, "that we should shew forth the praises of Him "who hath called us out of darkness into His "marvellous light; which in time past were not "a people, but are now the people of God; "which had not obtained mercy, but now have "obtained mercy." Let us recollect what we were by nature, and what we are become through grace. By nature, "we lay among "the pots," in a state of the lowest servility and degradation; through grace, we are become


as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, " and her feathers with yellow gold." By nature, we were in a state of perdition; but "God "hath redeemed our lives from destruction, and "crowned us with loving kindness and tender

"mercies." He hath "raised the poor out of "the dust, and lifted the needy from the dung"hill, that He might set us with princes, even "with the princes of His people." "Happy "art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O "people?—saved by the LORD, the shield of thy

help, and who is the sword of thine excel"lency and thine enemies shall be found liars "unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their "high places."


[ocr errors]

Mercifully look upon thy people." There is a treasure of instruction and comfort wrapt up in that word, not only more than the profane world can imagine, (for they indeed know nothing at all of it); but more than they that are of that number are able to conceive—a Deep unfathomable. Thy people. They are His portion, and He is theirs. He accounts nothing of all the world beside them, and they of nothing at all beside Him; for them He continues the world. Many and great are the privileges of His people, contained in that great charter, the Holy Scriptures; and rich is that land, where their inheritance lies; but all flows from this reciprocal relation, that He is their God. All His power and wisdom are engaged for their good; how great and many soever are their enemies, they may well oppose this to all, He is their God. They are sure to be protected and prospered, and in the end to have full victory. Happy then is that people, whose God is the Lord. Ps. xxiii. 12."*

What strong ground does a legitimate assumption of this title, of this relation to God, afford for confidence in stating the end for which we

Archbishop Leighton on 1st Ep. of Peter.

implore His favourable regard? For if we are His people, may we not indulge a confident persuasion, that He will “ by His great good“ness govern and preserve us evermore, both in

body and soul, through Jesus Christ our 66 Lord ?"

Our prayer comprehends, as hath been observed already, the collective body of God's people. For they are all one body under one head, subjects of the same kingdom, and members of the same society. However they may be distinguished as “Greeks or Jews, Barba

rians, Scythians, bond or free, they are all “ one in Christ Jesus.” And it is therefore the duty and privilege of every Christian to pray for the whole Catholic church, “ that it may be “governed and preserved evermore by God's

great goodness;" that by a pure and powerful dispensation of His word and ordinances its spirituality may be maintained and increased its beauty and splendour heightened; that He would raise up and continue a succession of pastors after His own heart, who shall employ the delegated authority which they receive to His glory and the benefit of His church.

But we shall consider the petition more particularly as it respects ourselves in our individual capacity, in which we pray for the everlasting governance and preservation of God's great goodness.

God is the Governor and Preserver of all creatures which He hath made. For the “ kingdom is the Lord's, and He is the governor among the nations."

“ He preserveth man and beast. But it is a governance and preservation of a special kind which we implore

N 3


« EelmineJätka »